GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) - Two Kent County men who plead guilty in a nine million dollar investment scam were sentenced at the Ottawa County Circuit Court Friday.
Target 8 investigators exposed the scam surrounding Jeff Ripley and Danny VanLiere back in 2009.
The men were accused in a ponzi scheme that convinced at least 140 investors that they could get millions of dollars from foreign banks by raising enough money to pay taxes and other charges. Victims lost between $3,000 and $600,000 each.
Ripley and VanLiere were sentenced to six to 20 years in prison. After factoring in time already served, both will become eligible for parole after about five years.
VanLiere was ordered to pay $3.1 million in restitution, and Ripley was ordered to pay $5.3 million. Their company, API, was ordered to pay $7.6 million in restitution.
Copies of wire transfers revealed to Target 8 investigators Thursday by Bob Hamilton, attorney for VanLiere, suggest that the two local men might have been conned along with the investors. The Attorney General, using several search warrants, found boxes of the records and provided some of them to the defense attorney.
The attorney for VanLiere said the true scammer is a man from North Carolina named Dan Hershey. He has also been charged with racketeering, but so far, no one can find him.
In court, both men apologized. VanLiere said he was conned along with the other victims, and Ripley took full responsibility.
Kent County authorities are looking for an inmate who walked away from a work assignment Wednesday.
Alison Hoendervanger, a special education teacher at Saranac High School, has been suspended.
Six years after she vanished, detectives are still working to find out who killed Janna Kelly.